National Parks and Wildlife (Co-Managed Parks) Amendment Bill

14 Feb 2017 newsspeechparliament

 I rise to make some remarks in relation to this bill, which the Liberal opposition is supporting. The National Parks and Wildlife (Co-managed Parks) Amendment Bill amends the comanagement provisions of the National Parks and Wildlife Act and the Wilderness Protection Act.

Adjourned debate on second reading.

(Continued from 30 November 2016.)

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK ( 16:16 :16 ): I rise to make some remarks in relation to this bill, which the Liberal opposition is supporting. The National Parks and Wildlife (Co-managed Parks) Amendment Bill amends the comanagement provisions of the National Parks and Wildlife Act and the Wilderness Protection Act. It also provides retrospective approval to two existing mining leases in the Ikara-Flinders Ranges National Park, which have operated unregulated since 1972 due to an administrative error.

The National Parks and Wildlife Act and the Wilderness Protection Act both exist to establish and protect parks and wilderness areas throughout South Australia. In 2004, the National Parks and Wildlife Act was amended to allow for the comanagement of parks, which was designed to recognise and include Aboriginal communities in the management process of their traditional lands. Similarly, in 2013 amendments were made to the Wilderness Protection Act to provide for comanagement over state wilderness-protected areas.

These comanagement agreements have allowed Aboriginal communities to care for their sacred places, upskill them, build land management expertise, and pursue potential cultural tourism and economic benefits. The state government has now entered into some 12 comanagement agreements, which cover 35 of South Australia's parks and reserves, some 13½ million hectares or 64 per cent of the state's reserve system. I understand these 12 agreements include seven boards and five advisory committees, and some of these boards advise several parks, but under the existing legislation there is no legal authority to manage them jointly.

The bill provides administrative amendments to clarify the wording used to allow the comanagement by one board over several parks. The amendments also allow for existing comanagement agreements to be updated to allow existing comanagement boards to merge. This is of particular relevance where one Aboriginal community is represented across multiple boards in the same region. There are also clauses in the bill which allow regulations to be made to fix expiation fees for alleged offences against the act. As previously mentioned, the bill enables two mining leases in the Ikara-Flinders Ranges National Park to be recognised, which is going to provide retrospective approval.

There are a number of comanaged parks, as I mentioned. The Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources produced a document in February 2016, entitled ' Strong People, Strong Country: Co-managing parks in South Australia ' , which has a map, and I love maps. Pages 10 and 11 show the comanaged parks, which are largely located in the northern part of South Australia, that are currently covered under such agreements. With those words, I commend the bill to the house.

Debate adjourned on motion of Hon. G.E. Gago.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: My question to the minister is in relation to the co-management of parks. It is really a generalised question, if the minister can advise. These arrangements are a relatively new concept in South Australia, through their establishment in the national parks and wildlife and wilderness protection acts. Perhaps the minister could give us some general advice about what sort of trends we are seeing in terms of co-managed parks in South Australia and whether there are tourism opportunities that some of the Aboriginal groups have been able to take up as part of these co-managed arrangements.

The Hon. I.K. HUNTER: I thank the honourable member for her most important question regarding comanagement. I am advised that we have been involved in co-management of the national parks with Indigenous communities since about 2005—

The ACTING CHAIR ( Hon. J.S.L. Dawkins ): Order! Can we avoid alternative conversations in the chamber. The minister does not have the strongest of voices today and I am having difficulty hearing him. The minister has the call.

The Hon. I.K. HUNTER: Thank you, Mr Acting Chairman, for your protection—when we took our first tentative steps in this direction. Fundamentally, co-management is about shared decision-making and it requires the traditional owners and the government to come together and learn from each other and develop a shared vision of what they want to see for that park and that environment.

A successful co-management structure and arrangement has the capacity to combine incredibly well the traditional knowledge of the people on the land and their traditional land management practices with contemporary approaches to park management, and for each to learn from the other about why those practices are important still. A number of co-management boards and advisory committees have been in place for several years and have played a significant role in helping to upskill boards and to help them help us manage what they know as their traditional lands.

It has given those boards and those communities a fantastic involvement and a feeling of control, I suppose, over lands that in their minds have always been theirs and always will be theirs, and it has given our land managers and national parks a fantastic ability to learn from local Indigenous communities more about the land than it ever learnt through working alone and solo in the department.

The Ikara-Flinders Ranges National Park Co-management Board is a great example of co‑management. The great landscape of the Ikara-Flinders Ranges National Park is part of the traditional land ranges of the Adnyamathanha people, and their culture is incredibly welcoming and sharing. They want to share their land with visitors and want to educate visitors about their long ancestral heritage on that site, their stories and their attachment to their land.

A recent achievement of the board was to work in partnership with the Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources negotiating the surrender of part of the Manawarra pastoral lease, which includes the site known as Sacred Canyon. This site includes significant Aboriginal engraving and paintings, and is an important area for the Adnyamathanha people. There is a desire on behalf of the Adnyamathanha and the co-management board to develop that area for increased tourism potential, and to drive more tourism into the area and, hopefully, take advantage of the Wilpena Ranges accommodation and to learn more about the local community and their ongoing desire to manage what is their land.

Sacred Canyon will be included, hopefully, within the Ikara-Flinders Ranges National Park shortly to afford it the protection provided by the National Parks and Wildlife Act. It will be managed by the parks co-management board. The process of taking it out of pastoral lands and putting it into national park has been a co-management success, and we look forward to bringing that forward to parliament for its support in the future.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: At the risk of giving the minister a potential Dorothy Dixer on this issue, can he advise the house of the progress of the reintroduction of the quoll and the possum into the Flinders Ranges National Park? I am sure the minister's adviser can provide the information.

The Hon. I.K. HUNTER: I always take advantage of potential Dorothy Dixers, but today I will desist. I thank the honourable member for this really great question. The reintroduction of quolls (or idnyas, as they are known) has been incredibly successful. It seems that the success has come, at least in part, from our ability to take quolls from the environment in Western Australia where they are already aware of and alert to predation by cats and foxes. Instead of rearing a population of quolls in captivity and then putting them out to take their chances, we have found a population from which we can source quolls that are already smart about how to avoid predation from foxes and feral cats.

We are through multiple generations now of quolls—the population is growing—and it seems to be a great success story. In terms of the possum, I do not have any figures in front of me, but I have not, to my recollection, received any negative feedback about the reintroduction of the possum. I was advised about that in a briefing note last year, and I am hopeful of getting an update on that shortly. But the reintroduction of quolls has been a fantastic success.

We also put, of course, great pressure, in terms of our management programs, on keeping down populations of predators, so we have a very concentrated program of shooting and trapping feral cats and foxes to give the quolls and possums every chance to make a success of their rewilding.

The Hon. D.W. Ridgway: I've got some possums eating my tomatoes you can have any day, if you like.

The Hon. I.K. HUNTER: Thank you, David.

Clause passed.

Remaining clauses (2 to 16), schedule and title passed.

Bill reported without amendment.